After having their in-person commencement ceremony canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Binghamton University’s Class of 2020 will finally be tossing their caps at this year’s Homecoming celebration.
The commencement ceremony will take place at noon on Sunday, Oct. 10. in the Events Center. The keynote speaker will be U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, ‘92, a graduate who earned his bachelor’s degree in political science. Jeffries went on to earn his master’s degree in public policy from Georgetown University and his law degree from New York University.
“The class of 2020 worked hard, ran the race and crossed over the finish line, all during a global pandemic that drastically changed our lives,” Jeffries said per Bing U News. “It is my privilege to return to my alma mater and congratulate a class that persevered and is now taking on the world. I thank [BU] President Harvey Stenger and the entire [BU] community for giving me this honor and look forward to celebrating the Class of 2020 and their achievements during Homecoming Weekend.”
Kai Moon, ‘20, described as having an “exceptional basketball career” per Bing U News, earned her degree in marketing from BU’s School of Management. She is now an analyst at Fairway Capital Management, LLC, back in Chicago, Illinois.
Moon’s parents, some extended family, her friends from her graduating class and from previous graduating classes will be attending the ceremony to celebrate with her. She wrote that she is excited to see her old teammates, friends and coaches.
“I was disappointed to not have been able to have a commencement last year when it was originally scheduled, but I realized graduating seniors everywhere were in the same situation as me, and I had accepted that I most likely wouldn’t have a graduation,” Moon wrote. “I think having the ceremony during Homecoming makes it more special because it gives more people a reason to come back. I’m still unsure about how this ceremony will compare to past ceremonies held during their traditional times, but overall I am happy that myself and my peers have the opportunity to participate in a graduation ceremony.”
Sarah Koral, director of special events and commencement at BU, wrote in an email that Commencement will follow the same format as those prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes live music from a pipe and drum band and full orchestra, which haven’t been able to play at Commencement ceremonies since 2019.
“We didn’t know if [the class of 2020 Commencement] would even be possible so to be able to offer this in-person opportunity is gratifying,” Koral wrote. “Once we successfully pulled off the May 2021 ceremony — even though we had to do 28 ceremonies to make it possible — we knew we could do this ceremony even while we still face the challenges posed by the pandemic.”
Koral wrote that the University is finally able to hold the ceremony because of low campus infection rates, climbing vaccination rates in New York state and by limiting attendance at the ceremony. According to Koral, the University is excited to celebrate its 2020 graduates.
“[The class of 2020] can simply look forward to finally being able to have the University celebrate them while having their family be here in person to celebrate their accomplishments,” Koral wrote. “We hope it will provide them some closure to their education careers that they worked so hard for.”
Weronika Stanisz, ‘20, who graduated with her bachelor’s degree in English and MBA, is now working as a services client representative at Kyndryl IBM Technology Services. Stanisz said not getting their in-person commencement was difficult, but she is looking forward to celebrating the class of 2020’s accomplishments this weekend.
“Life is naturally extremely unpredictable,” Stanisz said. “The class of 2020 students had no control over the tragic trajectory of 2020 but we were given control over our perspective and how we chose to view our situation. Although I was saddened by the lack of a Commencement ceremony last year, I understood the University’s rationale for not having one at the time and chose to stay optimistic for the future. Now, we finally get to come together in 2021 as the class of 2020 and celebrate all of our accomplishments after all of this time.”